Why Exercise?

I don’t want to get too controversial here, but, I’m going to say it – DON’T EXERCISE JUST FOR WEIGHT LOSS.

You should have fun when you exercise.

Humans are meant to move around.

Humans are meant to play.

We are built for it, and our brain floods our body with endorphins (a happy brain chemical) when we do.

You should look forward to it and want to do it almost daily. It should be a release – not something you dread and/or think, “…now I have to go workout…”

exercise motivation

I’m going to get even more contrary, and say that exercise alone will not get you to your weight loss goals. To quote a “wise” man, “the battle of the bulge is fought on the plate.” Exercise is a nice supplement that will accelerate your weight loss goals, but it relies on an underlying foundation of good eating habits.

In other words – YOU CAN’T EXERCISE AWAY A BAD DIET.

It’s worth pointing out that there are several health benefits associated with exercise that nicely compliment your fat control goals. I’m referencing some bullet points directly from the book, “The Eat Rich, Live Long Prescription (page 118)”

  • lowers blood glucose levels
  • lowers insulin levels
  • improves mitochondrial performance (you probably don’t realize how important it is to make sure you aren’t doing stuff to inhibit your mitochondrial performance – hint: diets high in carbohydrates are bad for your little cellular powerhouses)
  • encourages fatty acids to be released from tissue and used for energy (YES – this is where you can burn fat for fuel instead of glycogen)
  • promotes cell renewal/repair

The above are only possible if your exercise mode is SUPPLEMENTING a good diet. If you are eating garbage, you will leave a lot of exercise benefits on the table.

Okay, so now that we got that out of the way, let’s look at why we should get up and do what our ancestral DNA craves – MOVE AROUND.

Let’s define two terms (thanks dictionary.com):

exercise definition

fitness definition

Notice the first definition – exercise is an activity requiring physical effort with an end result to either sustain or improve health/fitness. Okay – the bar is pretty low there. Basically, if you get off the couch, and do anything other than nothing, you could argue that you are engaging in exercise. I will say that if you don’t attempt to go beyond the bare minimum of “doing anything other than nothing,” that you’ll probably only sustain what you have, and most certainly won’t “improve” your fitness. Who knows – that might be enough for you. Bare minimum movement patterns (just a semi-long walk each day, mowing the lawn, etc…) coupled with great eating habits will probably lead to a pretty okay life. But, if you use exercise as a way to improve the condition of being physically fit, you could potentially shift the needle to an awesome life.

I’ll default back to my original statement that humans are designed to play.

A quick look at the “history” of exercise shows that very early man moved. A lot. Primitive man/woman was a hunter-gather being. He/she routinely walked a lot to forage for those items that made life possible. Many many many miles. They didn’t go 13.1 miles for a medal and half a banana – they did it for survival. He/she climbed – lot. Look at the biology of our body. We have thumbs/fingers/hands that allow us to grip things. We have strong back muscles that enable us to climb and swing from stuff. I might be insane, but that is pretty fun.

I’ll also default back to my comment about exercise leading to a release of endorphins. Our brains want to reward us and make it feel good to move around. That is our biology’s way of telling us that movement = good!

The trick is to find the movement patterns that you enjoy. Doing something that you like is a more sustainable plan than forcing yourself to do something that you don’t like. For example – I don’t enjoy competitive swimming. Therefore, it would be counterproductive for me to force myself into a pool multiple times per week. Rather, I enjoy doing bodyweight calisthenics and what I call, “stupid human tricks.” For me – that is a fun challenge – to see what my body is capable of. Therefore, when I’m training on the bar or on the ground, it makes me happy, especially when I finally nail that one move I’ve been trying to complete.

Maybe you like to swim. Maybe you like to run, row, climb rocks, play softball, golf, paddle board, or play pickleball. It doesn’t matter – the key is to find some type of activity and just do it. If you think that throwing a rock against a concrete wall is the funnest thing of all time – do it, and do it with some gusto!

When you aren’t actually doing or competing in the activity you like doing, you can do auxiliary exercise/training to support your performance in that activity. If you enjoy competitive running, you’ll probably derive some fun from your training runs. If you enjoy obstacle course racing, you might derive enjoyment from high intensity interval training mixed in with some running intervals. As that cycle reiterates (training = fun, competing = fun), you’ll be the better for it. The key is you should be doing the movement pattern because its fun. Not because you think it will make you look better in a bathing suit – because its FUN.

I guess my point is – don’t torture yourself with movement patterns that you don’t like. There are tons of ways to be active. And, you don’t necessarily need to have an end goal in mind. It does focus your training if you have a goal in mind (prepping for a race, trying to do 50 pull ups, etc…), but that isn’t a prerequisite for engaging in exercise. The only real requirement is to find something fun, do it, and keep doing it. If you experiment with different modes of training, different sports, and different ways to move, you are bound to find something that clicks, and you can’t wait to do again.

So, GET UP AND MOVE!

 

Are you training for something, or do you just enjoy the chaos in random training methods/modes? What types of fun exercising patterns do you enjoy? Please feel free to share, like, and comment below!

 

 

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A Nutrition Manifesto

NUTRITIONAL venn

“You can’t exercise away a crappy diet.” – anonymous

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” – Hippocrates

There is SO MUCH information available nowadays about diet, nutrition, exercise, getting lean, etc… it can be overwhelming. AND, there is so much potentially incorrect information floating around, that it can inhibit a person’s ability to understand what is really going on, and how to come up with an approach that makes sense for him/herself. Unless a person really wants to fall down the rabbit hole and try to learn the basics about what drives our biology, the default will be to trust the advice of the mainstream, and (god forbid) follow the “standard american diet.”

Many of my friends/colleagues like to pick my brain about what exactly it is that I do in terms of fitness and nutrition. They see me as the relatively fit/strong guy that participates in a ton of athletic activities. So, as people usually do, if they see a person doing something that they want to do, they start to ask questions. They know that I’m not a professional in either area, but they do know that I’m obsessive about reading and researching topics that interest me, and I’m pretty hardcore when it comes to fitness. Or, at least that is the assumption. They know that if you get me going about anything related to fitness or nutrition, I’ll talk your ear off for an hour.

What I’ve learned in the past 6+ years of researching health, fitness, and nutrition is that you need to balance the two. It’s possible to be overall fit, but have poor nutrition; and, it’s also possible to have good nutrition with poor overall fitness. I firmly believe that you need a synergy between the two, and you need to have a clear way to measure your success. I’ve moved way beyond using the number on the scale to tell me how I’m doing. Overall body weight is such a false idol when you are trying to gauge your health/fitness.

Continue reading A Nutrition Manifesto